Mainland Europe has lost several lucrative tournaments this year due to the economic downturn but the Asian Swing part of the schedule continues to offer lucrative prize funds and perfect playing conditions. Rory McIlroy has committed to play in the remaining Southern Hemisphere events in order to secure the Race to Dubai.
McIlroy is a worthy favourite for this week’s Singapore Open, another event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour. The field contains numerous local players but it is unlikely that the winner is not an established European Tour player. The most obvious is of course McIlroy, one of only two players from the top 10 in the current world rankings competing in Singapore this week.
McIlroy appeared to have an unassailable lead in the Race to Dubai, formerly known as the European Order of Merit. However in the past two weeks Peter Hanson and Ian Poulter have won tournaments and huge prizes to get within another tournament win of the world number one.
Hanson and Poulter are not playing this week but Louis Oosthuizen is in the field and he could still overtake McIlroy in the standings. He established a five shot lead after 36 holes of the HSBC Champions last week but faded over the weekend to finish sixth. If Oosthuizen were to win this week and McIlroy finished down the field he would then become a factor in the outcome of the title for most money won.
This week’s host course at Sentosa has staged the tournament since it became affiliated to the European Tour three years ago. In the past two courses have been used in rotation but this year all four rounds will be played at Sentosa.
At 7327 yards the course is about average by modern standards and there will be no premium on distance over accuracy. Indeed the narrow fairways with many hazards and penal rough means driving accuracy will be a key skill. The putting surfaces are relatively fast and difficult to hit so finding the greens in the correct number of shots and bogey avoidance will be important attributes to contend.
On that basis Phil Mickelson (pictured) looks in good shape to record a rare win overseas. He had a good week in China at the HSBC Champions and has made the cut in the last three years in Singapore. With European based players concerned with Race to Dubai issues Mickelson may be more relaxed and capable of producing the best golf of the field.